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Apr. 24th, 2013

Emma 2009

Article response (re: men, women, and gender essentialism)

Tonight, a friend sent me a link to an article.  This article rather upset me, and thus I've written a post as a response.  Said response, though defiantly opposed to several points of the article, also contains much which opposes current political, cultural, moral, and social trends.

Original article link
My response, written as I read it:
Warning: non-internet-friendly opinionsCollapse )

Apr. 3rd, 2013

Emma 2009

“It's a strange world.” “The strangest.” The Host: a review

When pitching The Host to people, either trying to convince them to read the book or now, see the movie, I usually tell them it's Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the aliens win, but turn out to be nice. The world turns into billions of Jane Bennets (yay! Oh, wait, no, not yay), with only a handful of humans hiding out in fear of being erased by the insertion of “souls” (the human name for the aliens).

Written by Stephenie Meyer (about which more later), adapted and directed by Andrew Niccol (also more later), The Host is a deliberate, sincere film of great beauty and feeling. Not one I think will change many minds about scifi, or make too many waves given the anti-Twilight backlash that is hitting the film hard, but it's one I plan to purchase when it's available for home viewing and happily view many times.

In short, I quite liked, possibly even loved it.

Read more...Collapse )

Jan. 22nd, 2013

Emma 2009

Lost in Austen: A Live Facebooking (DIE IN A FIRE)

Lost in Austen is made of so much fail I’m convinced everyone involved was part of the Mark Twain society. They certainly had his historical research skillz.
(Note: I only started this livefacebooking on the second episode. The first episode is much of a piece, only with more muchness.)
Aaaah, I remember exactly why I stopped watching this garbagy pile of garbage: they called Jane lolloping. Srsly. Caroline in Lizzie Bennet Diaries might have implied that Jane was a fortune hunter, but calling her lolloping is a step much, much too far. BURN IT WITH MANY FIRES. LIKE, A BILLION.
Only gets worse from hereCollapse )

Dec. 16th, 2012

Emma 2009

Jane Austen's Birthday, 2012

Well, I've kind of abandoned you, Livejournal, for tumblr, something I never thought I'd do.  But the lure of Lizzie Bennet Diaries fandom and easily searchable tags to find excellent essays has trumped my hatred of ridiculous reply formats and idiotic reblogging options.  I still love Livejournal...but it's kind of dead here.

Be that as it may, it's Jane Austen's birthday.  As it happened last year, I was able to dance some Jane Austen dances at the local English Country Dancing club right around Jane Austen's birthday, which is quite appropriate.

Most of my Jane Austen love and energy is going into Lizzie Bennet Diaries posts on tumblr these days, which has mostly been on my tumblr (ibmiller.tumblr.com), but I still adore the novels and film adaptations.  And we shall see what happens when LBD are finished!  Perhaps I'll come back, perhaps this shall become an archive for especially careful posts.

Googling Jane Austen on her birthday reveals that CBS is developing a Sense and Sensibility television show, and Jennifer Love Hewitt is develooping a show called "Darcy's Town."  Which...the book is about Elizabeth, you know...one of the true strengths of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (www.youtube.com/lizziebennet).  Oh, movie and television producers, never stop trying to ruin Jane Austen.  It always brings out the best Jane Austen Hipster in me.

I don't have a ton of original thoughts today, but I thought I'd provide a list of posts I've made about Jane Austen that I think are especially noteworthy:

1) Jane Austen and politics: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/66807.html

A repost of a comment series I made about Jane Austen and the presidential election - it's not the best thing I've written, but I think it shows my feelings about Austen and trying to fit her to modern politics.

2) The BBC Costume Drama Television Trajectory: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/63165.html

A rather long post about the directions and trends I've noticed in my 9 years as a BBC costume drama/Jane Austen film adaptation fan.  Not exclusively Jane Austen related, but it does show the distinct trajectory of that subgenre.

3) Jane Austen Trailers: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/62589.html

I've collected all the Jane Austen film trailers I could - today I went through and pruned the dead links and found new ones for those I could.  A fun walk down memory lane, if you have ever waited eagerly for a Jane Austen film.

4) Last year's Jane Austen Birthday post: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/62265.html

I'm rather especially proud of this one.  It's pretty much a reverse history of my favorite Jane Austen moments.

5) Review of Sense and Sensibility 2008: http://ibmiller.livejournal.com/20204.html

The first time I really got involved in flogging an adaptation - I was really impressed by this series, and wanted to provide a counterbalance to a lot of the silly negative commentary on the other Jane Austen Hipster sites, which kept criticizing it for not being funny enough.

Just goes to show you: Jane Austen fandom never changes.  It's made up of equal parts squee-ing fans who lack critical distance and Jane Austen Hipsters who lack charity (I'm definitely in the latter catagory).

But it's a lovely fandom for all that.

So, Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!  It's been quite a year, and here's to the next, when your most popular novel hits 200 years old!

Nov. 21st, 2012

Jane Bennet 2005

On Lizzie Bennet Diaries, being peripheral to fandom

I've followed the Lizzie Bennet Diaries since the first video - desperately searching out interviews, hints, scraps, to figure out what the scope, intent, and result of the first new Jane Austen adaptation proper in three years would be.

The answer has been: really quite good.  Like the BBC's Sherlock, the show has given new life, new perspectives, and above all, a new fandom to Jane Austen's brilliant tale of flaws and forwardness.  However, just as Sherlock has created problems both in its source text and its fandom (as anyone who has followed Elementary can attest), I have found myself again frustrated.

It's not that the creators don't love the source material - I really appreciate Ashley Clement's comment about how Pride and Prejudice shows two people who grow morally because of their relationship, rather than just a story of attraction and feelings.  Clearly the love of the book she has brought to the part of Lizzie brings with it a deeper appreciation of the story and Austen's quality of narrative.

However, I've thought from the start that the show was more about seeing what kind of narrative you can tell through a webseries, rather than being first and foremost a Jane Austen adaptation.  I could be completely wrong - and I don't think that the goal is illegitimate at all.  I have been annoyed at some of the changes - but as I recently discovered, I'm a hipster Janeite who thinks that the book is best (I have really appreciated the way Darcy has been realized as a hipster - a fitting touch for an internet-based rendition of the novel).

Like the Sherlock fandom, the LBD fandom has brought a huge influx of fresh, enthusiastic, really enjoyable new fans into the Jane Austen community - similar to the 2005 film and the 1995 film.  And like the fans who were upset at the young people trampling on their lawns when those adaptations hit the fandom, I have my own loyalties and prejudices.  But on the whole, I think it's really great that as we approach the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, new fans are discovering and loving the story and the book for the first time.

Now, down to brass tacks: some of the things that make me peripheral to the fandom (also known as Unpopular Fandom Opinions, Lizzie Bennet Diaries edition).

I've never been a fan of slash.  I admit freely to having some non-canon pairing fics that I've started (but being a horrible fic writer, I never finished them).  But as I've grown more acclimated to fandom, I've developed into a generally canon-shipping, genfic-primarily fogey.

Which brings me to the most-often slashed characters (that I've seen): Caroline, Lydia, and Charlotte.  While I do really appreciate the attention the series has given each of these characters, I am confused by the way the fandom has embraced them.  Interesting, intriguing, completely ficcable - yes, these characters are all that.  But Caroline and Lydia especially are deeply morally compromised characters, and I wish there was more acknowledgement of that (by fandom - the creators, while properly finding the humanity and value in all their creations, also clearly understand the self-destructive and cruel tendencies of their characters).  Lydia in particular troubles me in the way fandom has embraced her - yes, I do like her antics, but I think that by herself she's more than a little grating ("Enjoy the Adorbs" is perhaps my least favorite episode - Lydia really, really needs someone to play off of or her narcissism makes me want to stop watching - something the creators know, as they've brilliantly played her off of Mary and Jane in her spin offs).

(Side note: I'm little weirded out by the "flawless" label being applied so frequently to Asian women.  Maybe it's because I'm in the LBD and Elementary fandoms simultaneously, but it bothers me for some reason.)

Now, I know she's mostly been absent, but I'm also bothered by the lack of love towards my favorite character.  That would be the one, the only, the ever charitable Jane Bennet, amazingly played by Laura Spencer (who actually made me break my "Two Broke Girls" no-watching plan to see her cameo :).  While Caroline has two episodes on the main channel and gets post after post slashing her with Lizzie or commenting on her flawless hair etc etc, Jane shows up in a major role in Lydia's spin off, and gets barely anything.  No, we didn't learn anything new - but Laura Spencer hit it out of the park (and the writing was really quite good).  It brought a reality of feeling to Lydia's journey that was sometimes a bit hard to get.

Finally, my last point of contention (and perhaps really my only one, since the others tend to be symptoms of this root): lack of critical distance.  This is fandom - we're supposed to be intense and enthusiastic and love and hate - but do we have to do so without engaging our brains?  I've never been a huge fan of "liking" something, since it provides a way to contribute without thinking - but so many reaction posts to each episode seem like only a slightly longer version of clicking "like."  And without engaging the mind as well as the heart, I feel that we start to lose perspective on the story as a whole.

But, as I said, these opinions are peripheral (not to mention unpopular).  Proving yet again that I'm lucky to find things I love - people really don't make them for me.

Nov. 6th, 2012

Emma 2009

Response to a kind, liberal Janeite

In response to an interesting article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-celia-greenfield/jane-austen-weekly-jane-a_b_2059973.html) and subsequent conversation about Jane Austen and who she would support in today's election:

Well, having begun in a dreadful bitterness of spirit, for which I apologize and am grateful you have overlooked and responded in charity instead, I shall now attempt to do the same.

I appreciate that there is a venue for this kind of piece - showing how Austen is relevant to our everyday life, even 200 years later - since some of my friends who are less appreciative of Jane’s works are wont to dismiss her novels as mere romantic drivel - which you and I both agree is very far from the truth.  I also acknowledge that the occasion for it (a short, weekly column) doesn’t allow for the type of scope and depth that I would like to see in such a heated topic as “What would Jane think/do/vote in modern politics?”  However, I did think that the way Romney was treated in this and the past month or so of columns has eschewed the spirit of one of my favorite Austen characters, Jane Bennet - who took the best in everyone’s character and made it still better.  Now, yes, I am not advocating the type of mental gymnastics which so endear Jane Bennet to me, trying to avoid thinking ill of all public figures - but I do think that there is an element of Lizzie’s “always laughing at a man” - which has, it is true, led to some witty comments - in this piece and its predecessors.

Perhaps some of my restiveness in seeing Jane Austen yet again impressed into endorsing one “side” or another comes from my own Butlerian/Duckworthian/Gardian view of Austen (as opposed to Claudia Johnson’s), and my fatigue at seeing her drafted or put into her place on one bench or another.  James and Lawrence sulkily or resentfully placing her on the side of order and passionlessness, Harding and Mudrick claiming her as a nasty-minded Juvenal, Butler/Duckworth placing her as a reactionary, Johnson/Kirkham as a subversive...the list goes on.  I think Austen’s work transcendant enough to have resonance with many positions - but tying her down to one and using her as a mallet to denigrate another just strikes me the wrong way.

I did appreciate your survey through the novels to find such resonances with today’s political situation.  To that end, I would respond (but not to negate your points, merely to offer supplement or alternate perspective):

1) Economic self-interest - Austen is indeed furious at the pettiness, nastiness, and viciousness that surrounds many wealthy people - but she also notes that Elizabeth, Anne, Fanny, Catherine, Elinor, and Marianne marry with economic self-interest in mind.  There is that particular discussion in Sense and Sensibilty about “competance” and “wealth” that show clearly marriage (or other life choices) without regarding how you will live are quite foolish.

2) I also completely agree that Austen believes strongly in supporting those less fortunate that ourselves - but I see her model as one of private and communal charity and aid, rather than state sponsored efforts - as shown in the actions of her wealthiest and most good-hearted characters such as Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Darcy.

3) When it comes to abortion and reproductive rights, I think there are many other moral concerns which would play into Austen’s support of one side or the other.  In addition to her powerful declarations of agency, she also firmly believes in justice and the rights of other oppressed groups, and I do not recall a time when she advocates the suppression of one group in favor of another oppressed group (such as Fanny, an oppressed woman, being concerned about the slave trade in Mansfield Park).  So I believe that the rights of other oppressed women - the unborn women who are aborted for not being boys, for example (or vice versa) - would also play into such a thought experiment.  In fact, when discussing a woman who was dangerously weakened by childbirth, she suggested seperate beds, rather than the abortions which were frowned upon, but definitely available to those of her class.

Of course, you would rightly say that I am reading my own values back into Austen’s when I go that far - but I think any attempt to analogize her politics with today’s positions will do that.  Similarly, any attempt to determine whether her endings are ironic or sincere will rest on how much we think Austen, as a brilliant, passionate artist of integrity would be willing to support those structures.

In the end, I thank you sincerely for your kind engagement with a sleep-deprived, touchy Janeite, and hope that whether we continue this correspondence here, or over other columns (which I look forward to reading), that you will continue, as I do, in my admiration for the greatest of English novelists.  I will only add, God bless you. :)

Oct. 7th, 2012


Elementary Credits: thoughts

So, Elementary now has a credits sequence (with a somewhat creditable theme tune - I rather like the scoring work on the show, some nice string work - much, much better than the films, which was ridiculously Old-Westy-Jangly-Piano combined with Zimmer's rock/minimalism overdone and over-the-top thumping).  And I was just thinking about it.

There's the rather odd Rube Goldberg clear marble machine thing - not quite sure what that's for, other than a nice way to get cast and crew on screen.  There's the reference to murders and crime in the firing gun and red blast.  There's a rather nice reference to the Six Napoleons in a smashing plaster bust.  The cage falling on the man - classic Mousetrap - and undoubtedly a reference to solving the cases at the end.  Finally, there's what seems to be a fairly blatant Sherlock reference in the use of the central cityscape behind the title of the show.

I dunno if I exactly like it - but then, title sequences aren't usually things I like until I fall in love with the show, unless they are things like the understated elegance and gorgeousness of the Firefly credits.

Oct. 6th, 2012

Jane Bennet 1995

Attics and hard drives: Elementary fanfic

Post on The Science of Deduction:

"Explained hard drive theory of brain to John today.  Didn't seem to make an impact.  Kept going on about teddy bears and suns.

Also, house blew up."

Comment on entry:

"Interesting theory.  I think the hard drive metaphor a bit too trendy - I refer to the conceptualization as "attic theory."  Much less labored.  Watson seemed to think it rubbish, though.  May be similar to John.

Am interested in your methods, though they seem slightly less useful than my own.

Also, houses blowing up are quite a bother.  Don't let them clutter up otherwise interesting blogs."

Yes, I am writing Sherlock/Elementary crossover fanfic.  I was a bit surprised that the writers went so directly for the "attic theory" in Elementary so quickly, since it's a fairly prominant element of "The Great Game" from Sherlock.  However, I like the way they dealt with it a bit better in Elementary, though I'm not sure if it's because I'm irritated with Sherlock and want Elementary to be good.

And this still isn't as cracked as my planned Revenge/Batman crossover. :)

Oct. 5th, 2012

Jane Bennet 1995


Well, while one of my shows this fall is really struggling to hold my attention (Revolution, whose idiocy seems to know no bounds, and whose painful lack of intelligence only Billy Burke with a sword is holding me on from week to week), and the other is off to a rocky start (Revenge, since Emily has been forced from being Batman, always prepared, to being a typical TV hero, always reactive), the show that probably has garnered the biggest hatedom before the pilot was even shot is actually making me happier as it progresses.

Elementary, while by no means as intelligent as Sherlock or the Granada Sherlock Holmes series, is certainly a huge step up from the feature films.  Additionally, I'm thrilled with the way they are investigating the Sherlockian references, rather than merely including them - I hope they are recurring elements, not just throwaway gags.  The episodic mystery this week was immesely less idiotic than the pilot, and I enjoyed how they progressed the plot by subverting and revealing expectations, rather than lazily stringing out tension by just going through the cliche mystery motions (unlike other Sherlock Holmes stories I could name...ahem, Sherlock, ahem, Silk Stocking) Lastly, Jonny Lee Miller is stunningly like Sidney Paget's illustrations of Holmes in the strand.  It's nice to have a Holmes who resembles the Holmes of my childhood, much as Jeremy Brett will always be the Holmes of my heart.

Sep. 26th, 2012

Emma 2009

6 + 1 Reasons Why Emily Thorne is Batman (spoilery links)

(Note: the links are totally spoilery.  The post itself is not).

1) Because she is (and I'm not the only one who says so - http://encorentertainmnt.blogspot.com/2012/06/do-not-do-anything-revengey-until-i-get.html)

2) She has ninja garb!  http://hellotailor.blogspot.com/2012/05/revenge-season-finale-reckoning.html

3) She has a combination of Alfred (old friend of father, promised to look after her), Oracle (tech wizard, constant surveillance, virtually no privacy or legal ethics), and Robin (has similar motivations, but definitely a sidekick) in Nolan Ross.

4) She totally has a Ra's al Ghul who comes and tells her that "Gotham must be destroyed" - er, I mean, "Your emotions have clouded your revenge.  It is not badass enough.  You must now destroy the things which are holding you back."  http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2011/11/suspicion.html

5) She is always the smartest person in the room, always has a plan - leading to the kind of functional invincibility Batman has that we like to call "prep-time."  http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/2012/01/duress.html

6) Even though she's a lot more morally compromised than Batman, she has that one line she won't cross:

+1) Nolan calls her Batgirl in the finale!

While I'm collecting awesome Revenge links, I'd like to put out word for some really great review/essays of the show:

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